On your UK Practical Driving Test you may be required to carry out an emergency stop.
An emergency stop is conducted at random in 1 out of every 3 driving tests. It is done for road safety purposes with the aim of the emergency stop manoeuvre being to demonstrate that you can bring the car to a halt safely and under control in an emergency situation.
If the examiner wants you to carry out the emergency stop, you will first be asked to pull over at the side of the road in a safe place. Pull over to a suitable place as soon as you see one (making sure that you are not inconveniencing any other road users) and put the handbrake on and the gear lever into neutral and wait for the examiner to explain what they would like you to do next.
The examiner will then go through what you will be required to do along the following lines:
"Soon I am going to ask you to stop the vehicle as if in an emergency. Just as if, for example, a small child ran into the road ahead of you. My signal for the manoeuvre will be..." (at this point the examiner will demonstrate the signal they will give you - it's usually holding up their right hand in front of the windscreen whilst saying "STOP").The examiner will continue their instructions -
"When I give the signal I'd like you to stop the car as soon as possible, while maintaining full control. Please try not to anticipate the manoeuvre when you see me look over my shoulder to check that it is safe for you to perform it. Drive on when you are ready please".
Don't Try To Anticipate The Examiner's Signal For The Emergency Stop!
The examiner will ask you to do the emergency stop as soon as they reasonably can, but they have to make sure that the road conditions are suitable and that it will be safe.
Remember that the examiner has said "soon" NOT "immediately", so WAIT for the signal. Drive on as you normally would and don't have your foot hovering over the brake pedal!
How To Do An Emergency Stop - Step-By-Step
Here's a summarised list of what's required for carrying out an emergency stop.
For those who prefer instructions given visually, there are some tutorial videos further down the page - some with an audio commentary for those who like to listen to what they need to do!
- After the examiner has explained what you will be required to do, move away as normal after making the proper observations. Try to keep your cool and don't try to anticipate when the examiner will ask you to stop. You WILL see the examiner checking that it's safe for you to do the emergency stop but don't assume that it's about to happen just because the examiner looks around - you must WAIT until you get the signal!
- When the signal is given, you must try to stop as soon as possible in a controlled manner. This is the only time on your test that is no need for mirror checks or signals - the examiner has already checked it is safe and your brake lights will tell other road users what you are doing. Simply remove your foot from the accelerator (gas pedal) and brake firmly but not too hard that the brakes lock or you skid. Just before the car stops press the clutch pedal down. Keep both hands on the steering wheel as you brake to keep the car in a straight line - there's no need to worry about changing gear.
- When the car has stopped, apply the handbrake and put the gear lever into neutral and take your feet off the pedals while you wait for the examiner's next instruction.
- The examiner will then say something along the lines of; "Thank you, I won't ask you to do that exercise again. Drive on and follow the road ahead when you're ready."
- Before moving away you must perform an all-round observation including mirror checks, checking over both your left and right shoulder and giving a signal if necessary.
- While the examiner wants you to stop quickly, they also want you to stop under CONTROL Brake firmly and progressively but not too harshly or you may cause the brakes to lock and the car to skid
Emergency Stop Do's & Don't's
- Don't try to anticipate the examiner's request to stop
- Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre Not Needed! - while doing an emergency stop on your driving test there is no need for mirror checks or signals before you stop as the examiner has already checked it is safe and your brake lights will tell other road users what you are doing!
- On completion of the exercise though, you MUST take full observations before moving off again
- Don't slam your foot too hard on the brake
- If you feel the brakes locking up, ease off the brake pedal
- REMEMBER - check all round & over both shoulders before moving off afterwards!
Common Mistakes When Doing An Emergency Stop
Mistakes that could result in driving test faults when carrying out an emergency stop during your driving test
- Late or slow reaction to the signal
- Applying the handbrake before stopping
- Skidding out of control
- Missing the foot pedal
- Letting go of the steering wheel
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